America Has Been at War 93% of the Time

222 Out of 239 Years Since 1776

by WashingtonsBlog (February 20 2015)

The US Has Only Been At Peace For 21 Years Total Since Its Birth

In 2011, Danios wrote {1}:

Below, I have reproduced a year-by-year timeline of America’s wars, which reveals something quite interesting: since the United States was founded in 1776, she has been at war during 214 out of her 235 calendar years of existence.  In other words, there were only 21 calendar years in which the US did not wage any wars.

    To put this in perspective:

    * Pick any year since 1776 and there is about a 91% chance that America was involved in some war during that calendar year.

    * No US president truly qualifies as a peacetime president.  Instead, all US presidents can technically be considered “war presidents”.

    * The US has never gone a decade without war.

    * The only time the US went five years without war (1935-1940) was during the isolationist period of the Great Depression.

    *  *  *

    Here is a graphic depiction of US wars:

    <img src="http://i1.wp.com/www.loonwatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/US-war-graph.jpg?zoom=2&resize=426%2C386” alt=”” />

    And here is the year-by-year timeline of America’s major wars:

        Year-by-year Timeline of America’s Major Wars (1776-2011)

    1776 –  American Revolutionary War, Chickamagua Wars, Second Cherokee War, Pennamite-Yankee War

    1777 –  American Revolutionary War, Chickamauga Wars, Second Cherokee War, Pennamite-Yankee War

    1778 –  American Revolutionary War, Chickamauga Wars, Pennamite-Yankee War

    1779 –  American Revolutionary War, Chickamauga Wars, Pennamite-Yankee War

    1780 –  American Revolutionary War, Chickamauga Wars, Pennamite-Yankee War

    1781 –  American Revolutionary War, Chickamauga Wars, Pennamite-Yankee War

    1782 –  American Revolutionary War, Chickamauga Wars, Pennamite-Yankee War

    1783 –  American Revolutionary War, Chickamauga Wars, Pennamite-Yankee War

    1784 –  Chickamauga Wars, Pennamite-Yankee War, Oconee War

    1785 –  Chickamauga Wars, Northwest Indian War

    1786 –  Chickamauga Wars, Northwest Indian War

    1787 –  Chickamauga Wars, Northwest Indian War

    1788 –  Chickamauga Wars, Northwest Indian War

    1789 –  Chickamauga Wars, Northwest Indian War

    1790 –  Chickamauga Wars, Northwest Indian War

    1791 –  Chickamauga Wars, Northwest Indian War

    1792 –  Chickamauga Wars, Northwest Indian War

    1793 –  Chickamauga Wars, Northwest Indian War

    1794 –  Chickamauga Wars, Northwest Indian War

    1795 –  Northwest Indian War

    1796 –  No major war

    1797 –  No major war

    1798 –  Quasi-War

    1799 –  Quasi-War

    1800 –  Quasi-War

    1801 –  First Barbary War

    1802 –  First Barbary War

    1803 –  First Barbary War

    1804 –  First Barbary War

    1805 –  First Barbary War

    1806 –  Sabine Expedition

    1807 –  No major war

    1808 –  No major war

    1809 –  No major war

    1810 –  US occupies Spanish-held West Florida

    1811 –  Tecumseh’s War

    1812 –  War of 1812, Tecumseh’s War, Seminole Wars, US occupies Spanish-held Amelia Island and other parts of East Florida

    1813 –  War of 1812, Tecumseh’s War, Peoria War, Creek War, US expands its territory in West Florida

    1814 –  War of 1812, Creek War, US expands its territory in Florida, Anti-piracy war

    1815 –  War of 1812, Second Barbary War, Anti-piracy war

    1816 –  First Seminole War, Anti-piracy war

    1817 –  First Seminole War, Anti-piracy war

    1818 –  First Seminole War, Anti-piracy war

    1819 –  Yellowstone Expedition, Anti-piracy war

    1820 –  Yellowstone Expedition, Anti-piracy war

    1821 –  Anti-piracy war (see note above)

    1822 –  Anti-piracy war (see note above)

    1823 –  Anti-piracy war, Arikara War

    1824 –  Anti-piracy war

    1825 –  Yellowstone Expedition, Anti-piracy war

    1826 –  No major war

    1827 –  Winnebago War

    1828 –  No major war

    1829 –  No major war

    1830 –  No major war

    1831 –  Sac and Fox Indian War

    1832 –  Black Hawk War

    1833 –  Cherokee Indian War

    1834 –  Cherokee Indian War, Pawnee Indian Territory Campaign

    1835 –  Cherokee Indian War, Seminole Wars, Second Creek War

    1836 –  Cherokee Indian War, Seminole Wars, Second Creek War, Missouri-Iowa Border War

    1837 –  Cherokee Indian War, Seminole Wars, Second Creek War, Osage Indian War, Buckshot War

    1838 –  Cherokee Indian War, Seminole Wars, Buckshot War, Heatherly Indian War

    1839 –  Cherokee Indian War, Seminole Wars

    1840 –  Seminole Wars, US naval forces invade Fiji Islands

    1841 –  Seminole Wars, US naval forces invade McKean Island, Gilbert Islands, and Samoa

    1842 –  Seminole Wars

    1843 –  US forces clash with Chinese, US troops invade African coast

    1844 –  Texas-Indian Wars

    1845 –  Texas-Indian Wars

    1846 –  Mexican-American War, Texas-Indian Wars

    1847 –  Mexican-American War, Texas-Indian Wars

    1848 –  Mexican-American War, Texas-Indian Wars, Cayuse War

    1849 –  Texas-Indian Wars, Cayuse War, Southwest Indian Wars, Navajo Wars, Skirmish between 1st Cavalry and Indians

    1850 –  Texas-Indian Wars, Cayuse War, Southwest Indian Wars, Navajo Wars, Yuma War, California Indian Wars, Pitt River Expedition

    1851 –  Texas-Indian Wars, Cayuse War, Southwest Indian Wars, Navajo Wars, Apache Wars, Yuma War, Utah Indian Wars, California Indian Wars

    1852 –  Texas-Indian Wars, Cayuse War, Southwest Indian Wars, Navajo Wars, Yuma War, Utah Indian Wars, California Indian Wars

    1853 –  Texas-Indian Wars, Cayuse War, Southwest Indian Wars, Navajo Wars, Yuma War, Utah Indian Wars, Walker War, California Indian Wars

    1854 –  Texas-Indian Wars, Cayuse War, Southwest Indian Wars, Navajo Wars, Apache Wars, California Indian Wars, Skirmish between 1st Cavalry and Indians

    1855 –  Seminole Wars, Texas-Indian Wars, Cayuse War, Southwest Indian Wars, Navajo Wars, Apache Wars, California Indian Wars, Yakima War, Winnas Expedition, Klickitat War, Puget Sound War, Rogue River Wars, US forces invade Fiji Islands and Uruguay

    1856 –  Seminole Wars, Texas-Indian Wars, Southwest Indian Wars, Navajo Wars, California Indian Wars, Puget Sound War, Rogue River Wars, Tintic War

    1857 –  Seminole Wars, Texas-Indian Wars, Southwest Indian Wars, Navajo Wars, California Indian Wars, Utah War, Conflict in Nicaragua

    1858 –  Seminole Wars, Texas-Indian Wars, Southwest Indian Wars, Navajo Wars, Mohave War, California Indian Wars, Spokane-Coeur d’Alene-Paloos War, Utah War, US forces invade Fiji Islands and Uruguay

    1859 Texas-Indian Wars, Southwest Indian Wars, Navajo Wars, California Indian Wars, Pecos Expedition, Antelope Hills Expedition, Bear River Expedition, John Brown’s raid, US forces launch attack against Paraguay, US forces invade Mexico

    1860 –  Texas-Indian Wars, Southwest Indian Wars, Navajo Wars, Apache Wars, California Indian Wars, Paiute War, Kiowa-Comanche War

    1861 –  American Civil War, Texas-Indian Wars, Southwest Indian Wars, Navajo Wars, Apache Wars, California Indian Wars, Cheyenne Campaign

    1862 –  American Civil War, Texas-Indian Wars, Southwest Indian Wars, Navajo Wars, Apache Wars, California Indian Wars, Cheyenne Campaign, Dakota War of 1862,

    1863 –  American Civil War, Texas-Indian Wars, Southwest Indian Wars, Navajo Wars, Apache Wars, California Indian Wars, Cheyenne Campaign, Colorado War, Goshute War

    1864 –  American Civil War, Texas-Indian Wars, Navajo Wars, Apache Wars, California Indian Wars, Cheyenne Campaign, Colorado War, Snake War

    1865 –  American Civil War, Texas-Indian Wars, Navajo Wars, Apache Wars, California Indian Wars, Colorado War, Snake War, Utah’s Black Hawk War

    1866 –  Texas-Indian Wars, Navajo Wars, Apache Wars, California Indian Wars, Skirmish between 1st Cavalry and Indians, Snake War, Utah’s Black Hawk War, Red Cloud’s War, Franklin County War, US invades Mexico, Conflict with China

    1867 –  Texas-Indian Wars, Long Walk of the Navajo, Apache Wars, Skirmish between 1st Cavalry and Indians, Snake War, Utah’s Black Hawk War, Red Cloud’s War, Comanche Wars, Franklin County War, US troops occupy Nicaragua and attack Taiwan

    1868 –  Texas-Indian Wars, Long Walk of the Navajo, Apache Wars, Skirmish between 1st Cavalry and Indians, Snake War, Utah’s Black Hawk War, Red Cloud’s War, Comanche Wars, Battle of Washita River, Franklin County War

    1869 –  Texas-Indian Wars, Apache Wars, Skirmish between 1st Cavalry and Indians, Utah’s Black Hawk War, Comanche Wars, Franklin County War

    1870 –  Texas-Indian Wars, Apache Wars, Skirmish between 1st Cavalry and Indians, Utah’s Black Hawk War, Comanche Wars, Franklin County War

    1871 –  Texas-Indian Wars, Apache Wars, Skirmish between 1st Cavalry and Indians, Utah’s Black Hawk War, Comanche Wars, Franklin County War, Kingsley Cave Massacre, US forces invade Korea

    1872 –  Texas-Indian Wars, Apache Wars, Utah’s Black Hawk War, Comanche Wars, Modoc War, Franklin County War

    1873 –  Texas-Indian Wars, Comanche Wars, Modoc War, Apache Wars, Cypress Hills Massacre, US forces invade Mexico

    1874 –  Texas-Indian Wars, Comanche Wars, Red River War, Mason County War, US forces invade Mexico

    1875 –  Conflict in Mexico, Texas-Indian Wars, Comanche Wars, Eastern Nevada, Mason County War, Colfax County War, US forces invade Mexico

    1876 –  Texas-Indian Wars, Black Hills War, Mason County War, US forces invade Mexico

    1877 –  Texas-Indian Wars, Skirmish between 1st Cavalry and Indians, Black Hills War, Nez Perce War, Mason County War, Lincoln County War, San Elizario Salt War, US forces invade Mexico

    1878 –  Paiute Indian conflict, Bannock War, Cheyenne War, Lincoln County War, US forces invade Mexico

    1879 –  Cheyenne War, Sheepeater Indian War, White River War, US forces invade Mexico

    1880 –  US forces invade Mexico

    1881 –  US forces invade Mexico

    1882 –  US forces invade Mexico

    1883 –  US forces invade Mexico

    1884 –  US forces invade Mexico

    1885 –  Apache Wars, Eastern Nevada Expedition, US forces invade Mexico

    1886 –  Apache Wars, Pleasant Valley War, US forces invade Mexico

    1887 –  US forces invade Mexico

    1888 –  US show of force against Haiti, US forces invade Mexico

    1889 –  US forces invade Mexico

    1890 –  Sioux Indian War, Skirmish between 1st Cavalry and Indians, Ghost Dance War, Wounded Knee, US forces invade Mexico

    1891 –  Sioux Indian War, Ghost Dance War, US forces invade Mexico

    1892 –  Johnson County War, US forces invade Mexico

    1893 –  US forces invade Mexico and Hawaii

    1894 –  US forces invade Mexico

    1895 –  US forces invade Mexico, Bannock Indian Disturbances

    1896 –  US forces invade Mexico

    1897 –  No major war

    1898 –  Spanish-American War, Battle of Leech Lake, Chippewa Indian Disturbances

    1899 –  Philippine-American War, Banana Wars

    1900 –  Philippine-American War, Banana Wars

    1901 –  Philippine-American War, Banana Wars

    1902 –  Philippine-American War, Banana Wars

    1903 –  Philippine-American War, Banana Wars

    1904 –  Philippine-American War, Banana Wars

    1905 –  Philippine-American War, Banana Wars

    1906 –  Philippine-American War, Banana Wars

    1907 –  Philippine-American War, Banana Wars

    1908 –  Philippine-American War, Banana Wars

    1909 –  Philippine-American War, Banana Wars

    1910 –  Philippine-American War, Banana Wars

    1911 –  Philippine-American War, Banana Wars

    1912 –  Philippine-American War, Banana Wars

    1913 –  Philippine-American War, Banana Wars, New Mexico Navajo War

    1914 –  Banana Wars, US invades Mexico

    1915 –  Banana Wars, US invades Mexico, Colorado Paiute War

    1916 –  Banana Wars, US invades Mexico

    1917 –  Banana Wars, World War One, US invades Mexico

    1918 –  Banana Wars, World War One, U.S invades Mexico

    1919 –  Banana Wars, US invades Mexico

    1920 –  Banana Wars

    1921 –  Banana Wars

    1922 –  Banana Wars

    1923 –  Banana Wars, Posey War

    1924 –  Banana Wars

    1925 –  Banana Wars

    1926 –  Banana Wars

    1927 –  Banana Wars

    1928 –  Banana Wars

    1930 –  Banana Wars

    1931 –  Banana Wars

    1932 –  Banana Wars

    1933 –  Banana Wars

    1934 –  Banana Wars

    1935 –  No major war

    1936 –  No major war

    1937 –  No major war

    1938 –  No major war

    1939 –  No major war

    1940 –  No major war

    1941 –  World War Two

    1942 –  World War Two

    1943 –  Wold War Two

    1944 –  World War Two

    1945 –  World War Two

    1946 –  Cold War (US occupies the Philippines and South Korea)

    1947 –  Cold War (US occupies South Korea, US forces land in Greece to fight Communists)

    1948 –  Cold War (US forces aid Chinese Nationalist Party against Communists)

    1949 –  Cold War (US forces aid Chinese Nationalist Party against Communists)

    1950 –  Korean War, Jayuga Uprising

    1951 –  Korean War

    1952 –  Korean War

    1953 –  Korean War

    1954 –  Covert War in Guatemala

    1955 –  Vietnam War

    1956 –  Vietnam War

    1957 –  Vietnam War

    1958 –  Vietnam War

    1959 –  Vietnam War, Conflict in Haiti

    1960 –  Vietam War

    1961 –  Vietnam War

    1962 –  Vietnam War, Cold War (Cuban Missile Crisis; US marines fight Communists in Thailand)

    1963 –  Vietnam War

    1964 –  Vietnam War

    1965 –  Vietnam War, US occupation of Dominican Republic

    1966 –  Vietnam War, US occupation of Dominican Republic

    1967 –  Vietnam War

    1968 –  Vietnam War

    1969 –  Vietnam War

    1970 –  Vietnam War

    1971 –  Vietnam War

    1972 –  Vietnam War

    1973 –  Vietnam War, US aids Israel in Yom Kippur War

    1974 –  Vietnam War

    1975 –  Vietnam War

    1976 –  No major war

    1977 –  No major war

    1978 –  No major war

    1979 –  Cold War (CIA proxy war in Afghanistan)

    1980 –  Cold War (CIA proxy war in Afghanistan)

    1981 –  Cold War (CIA proxy war in Afghanistan and Nicaragua), First Gulf of Sidra Incident

    1982 –  Cold War (CIA proxy war in Afghanistan and Nicaragua), Conflict in Lebanon

    1983 –  Cold War (Invasion of Grenada, CIA proxy war in Afghanistan and Nicaragua), Conflict in Lebanon

    1984 –  Cold War (CIA proxy war in Afghanistan and Nicaragua), Conflict in Persian Gulf

    1985 –  Cold War (CIA proxy war in Afghanistan and Nicaragua)

    1986 –  Cold War (CIA proxy war in Afghanistan and Nicaragua)

    1987 –  Conflict in Persian Gulf

    1988 –  Conflict in Persian Gulf, US occupation of Panama

    1989 –  Second Gulf of Sidra Incident, US occupation of Panama, Conflict in Philippines

    1990 –  First Gulf War, US occupation of Panama

    1991 –  First Gulf War

    1992 –  Conflict in Iraq

    1993 –  Conflict in Iraq

    1994 –  Conflict in Iraq, US invades Haiti

    1995 –  Conflict in Iraq, US invades Haiti, NATO bombing of Bosnia and Herzegovina

    1996 –  Conflict in Iraq

    1997 –  No major war

    1998 –  Bombing of Iraq, Missile strikes against Afghanistan and Sudan

    1999 –  Kosovo War

    2000 –  No major war

    2001 –  War on Terror in Afghanistan

    2002 –  War on Terror in Afghanistan and Yemen

    2003 –  War on Terror in Afghanistan, and Iraq

    2004 –  War on Terror in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and Yemen

    2005 –  War on Terror in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and Yemen

    2006 –  War on Terror in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and Yemen

    2007 –  War on Terror in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen

    2008 –  War on Terror in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and Yemen

    2009 –  War on Terror in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and Yemen

    2010 –  War on Terror in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and Yemen

    2011 –  War on Terror in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen; Conflict in Libya (Libyan Civil War)

In most of these wars, the US was on the offense. Danios admits that some of the wars were defensive.   However, Danios also leaves out covert CIA operations and other acts which could be considered war.

Let’s update what’s happened since 2011:

2012 –  War on Terror in Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Syria and Yemen

    2013 –  War on Terror in Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Syria and Yemen

    2014 –  War on Terror in Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Syria and Yemen; Civil War in Ukraine

    2015 –  War on Terror in Somalia, Somalia, Syria and Yemen; Civil War in Ukraine

So we can add four more years of war. That means that for 222 out of 239 years –  or 93% of the time {2} –  America has been at war. (We can quibble with the exact numbers, but the high percentage of time that America has been at war is clear and unmistakable.)

Indeed, most of the military operations launched since World War Two have been launched by the US {3}.

And American military spending dwarfs the rest of the world put together.

No wonder polls show that the world believes America is the Number One threat to peace {4}.

Links:

{1} http://www.loonwatch.com/2011/12/we-re-at-war-and-we-have-been-since-1776/

{2} http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=222+is+what+percent+of+239

{3} http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2014/05/90-deaths-war-civilians.html

{4} http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2014/03/2014-gallup-international-poll-us-1-threat-world-peace.html

http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2015/02/america-war-93-time-222-239-years-since-1776.html

Categories: Uncategorized

Why the Rise of Fascism is Again the Issue

by John Pilger
 
http://johnpilger.com (February 26 2015)

The recent 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz was a reminder of the great crime of fascism, whose Nazi iconography is embedded in our consciousness. Fascism is preserved as history, as flickering footage of goose-stepping blackshirts, their criminality terrible and clear. Yet in the same liberal societies, whose war-making elites urge us never to forget, the accelerating danger of a modern kind of fascism is suppressed; for it is their fascism.

“To initiate a war of aggression ..”., said the Nuremberg Tribunal judges in 1946, “is not only an international crime, it is the supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole”.

Had the Nazis not invaded Europe, Auschwitz and the Holocaust would not have happened. Had the United States and its satellites not initiated their war of aggression in Iraq in 2003, almost a million people would be alive today; and Islamic State, or ISIS, would not have us in thrall to its savagery. They are the progeny of modern fascism, weaned by the bombs, bloodbaths and lies that are the surreal theatre known as news.

Like the fascism of the 1930s and 1940s, big lies are delivered with the precision of a metronome: thanks to an omnipresent, repetitive media and its virulent censorship by omission. Take the catastrophe in Libya.

In 2011, Nato launched 9,700 “strike sorties” against Libya, of which more than a third were aimed at civilian targets. Uranium warheads were used; the cities of Misurata and Sirte were carpet-bombed. The Red Cross identified mass graves, and Unicef reported that “most [of the children killed] were under the age of ten”.

The public sodomising of the Libyan president Muammar Gaddafi with a “rebel” bayonet was greeted by the then US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, with the words: “We came, we saw, he died”. His murder, like the destruction of his country, was justified with a familiar big lie; he was planning “genocide” against his own people. “We knew … that if we waited one more day”, said President Obama, “Benghazi, a city the size of Charlotte, could suffer a massacre that would have reverberated across the region and stained the conscience of the world”.

This was the fabrication of Islamist militias facing defeat by Libyan government forces. They told Reuters there would be “a real bloodbath, a massacre like we saw in Rwanda”. Reported on March 14 2011, the lie provided the first spark for Nato’s inferno, described by David Cameron as a “humanitarian intervention”.

Secretly supplied and trained by Britain’s SAS, many of the “rebels” would become ISIS, whose latest video offering shows the beheading of 21 Coptic Christian workers seized in Sirte, the city destroyed on their behalf by Nato bombers.

For Obama, Cameron and Hollande, Gaddafi’s true crime was Libya’s economic independence and his declared intention to stop selling Africa’s greatest oil reserves in US dollars. The petrodollar is a pillar of American imperial power. Gaddafi audaciously planned to underwrite a common African currency backed by gold, establish an all-Africa bank and promote economic union among poor countries with prized resources. Whether or not this would happen, the very notion was intolerable to the US as it prepared to “enter” Africa and bribe African governments with military “partnerships”.

Following Nato’s attack under cover of a Security Council resolution, Obama, wrote Garikai Chengu, “confiscated $30 billion from Libya’s Central Bank, which Gaddafi had earmarked for the establishment of an African Central Bank and the African gold backed dinar currency”.

The “humanitarian war” against Libya drew on a model close to western liberal hearts, especially in the media. In 1999, Bill Clinton and Tony Blair sent Nato to bomb Serbia, because, they lied, the Serbs were committing “genocide” against ethnic Albanians in the secessionist province of Kosovo. David Scheffer, US ambassador-at-large for war crimes [sic], claimed that as many as “225,000 ethnic Albanian men aged between fourteen and 59″ might have been murdered. Both Clinton and Blair evoked the Holocaust and “the spirit of the Second World War”. The West’s heroic allies were the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), whose criminal record was set aside. The British Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, told them to call him any time on his mobile phone.

With the Nato bombing over, and much of Serbia’s infrastructure in ruins, along with schools, hospitals, monasteries and the national TV station, international forensic teams descended upon Kosovo to exhume evidence of the “holocaust”. The FBI failed to find a single mass grave and went home. The Spanish forensic team did the same, its leader angrily denouncing “a semantic pirouette by the war propaganda machines”. A year later, a United Nations tribunal on Yugoslavia announced the final count of the dead in Kosovo: 2,788. This included combatants on both sides and Serbs and Roma murdered by the KLA. There was no genocide. The “holocaust” was a lie. The Nato attack had been fraudulent.

Behind the lie, there was serious purpose. Yugoslavia was a uniquely independent, multi-ethnic federation that had stood as a political and economic bridge in the Cold War. Most of its utilities and major manufacturing was publicly owned. This was not acceptable to the expanding European Community, especially newly united Germany, which had begun a drive east to capture its “natural market” in the Yugoslav provinces of Croatia and Slovenia. By the time the Europeans met at Maastricht in 1991 to lay their plans for the disastrous eurozone, a secret deal had been struck; Germany would recognise Croatia. Yugoslavia was doomed.

In Washington, the US saw that the struggling Yugoslav economy was denied World Bank loans. Nato, then an almost defunct Cold War relic, was reinvented as imperial enforcer. At a 1999 Kosovo “peace” conference in Rambouillet, in France, the Serbs were subjected to the enforcer’s duplicitous tactics. The Rambouillet accord included a secret Annex B, which the US delegation inserted on the last day. This demanded the military occupation of the whole of Yugoslavia – a country with bitter memories of the Nazi occupation – and the implementation of a “free-market economy” and the privatisation of all government assets. No sovereign state could sign this. Punishment followed swiftly; Nato bombs fell on a defenceless country. It was the precursor to the catastrophes in Afghanistan and Iraq, Syria and Libya, and Ukraine.

Since 1945, more than a third of the membership of the United Nations – 69 countries – have suffered some or all of the following at the hands of America’s modern fascism. They have been invaded, their governments overthrown, their popular movements suppressed, their elections subverted, their people bombed and their economies stripped of all protection, their societies subjected to a crippling siege known as “sanctions”. The British historian Mark Curtis estimates the death toll in the millions. In every case, a big lie was deployed.

“Tonight, for the first time since 9/11, our combat mission in Afghanistan is over”. These were opening words of Obama’s 2015 State of the Union address. In fact, some 10,000 troops and 20,000 military contractors (mercenaries) remain in Afghanistan on indefinite assignment. “The longest war in American history is coming to a responsible conclusion”, said Obama. In fact, more civilians were killed in Afghanistan in 2014 than in any year since the UN took records. The majority have been killed – civilians and soldiers – during Obama’s time as president.

The tragedy of Afghanistan rivals the epic crime in Indochina. In his lauded and much quoted book The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives (1997), Zbigniew Brzezinski, the godfather of US policies from Afghanistan to the present day, writes that if America is to control Eurasia and dominate the world, it cannot sustain a popular democracy, because “the pursuit of power is not a goal that commands popular passion … Democracy is inimical to imperial mobilisation”. He is right. As WikiLeaks and Edward Snowden have revealed, a surveillance and police state is usurping democracy. In 1976, Brzezinski, then President Carter’s National Security Advisor, demonstrated his point by dealing a death blow to Afghanistan’s first and only democracy. Who knows this vital history?

In the 1960s, a popular revolution swept Afghanistan, the poorest country on earth, eventually overthrowing the vestiges of the aristocratic regime in 1978. The People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) formed a government and declared a reform programme that included the abolition of feudalism, freedom for all religions, equal rights for women and social justice for the ethnic minorities. More than 13,000 political prisoners were freed and police files publicly burned.

The new government introduced free medical care for the poorest; peonage was abolished, a mass literacy programme was launched. For women, the gains were unheard of. By the late 1980s, half the university students were women, and women made up almost half of Afghanistan’s doctors, a third of civil servants and the majority of teachers. “Every girl”, recalled Saira Noorani, a female surgeon,

could go to high school and university. We could go where we wanted and wear what we liked. We used to go to cafes and the cinema to see the latest Indian film on a Friday and listen to the latest music. It all started to go wrong when the mujaheddin started winning. They used to kill teachers and burn schools. We were terrified. It was funny and sad to think these were the people the West supported.

The PDPA government was backed by the Soviet Union, even though, as former Secretary of State Cyrus Vance later admitted, “there was no evidence of any Soviet complicity [in the revolution]”. Alarmed by the growing confidence of liberation movements throughout the world, Brzezinski decided that if Afghanistan was to succeed under the PDPA, its independence and progress would offer the “threat of a promising example”.

On July 3 1979, the White House secretly authorised $500 million in arms and logistics to support tribal “fundamentalist” groups known as the mujaheddin. The aim was the overthrow of Afghanistan’s first secular, reformist government. In August 1979, the US embassy in Kabul reported that “the United States’ larger interests … would be served by the demise of [the PDPA government], despite whatever setbacks this might mean for future social and economic reforms in Afghanistan“. The italics are mine.

The mujaheddin were the forebears of al-Qaeda and Islamic State. They included Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who received tens of millions of dollars in cash from the CIA. Hekmatyar’s specialty was trafficking in opium and throwing acid in the faces of women who refused to wear the veil. Invited to London, he was lauded by Prime Minister Thatcher as a “freedom fighter”.

Such fanatics might have remained in their tribal world had Brzezinski not launched an international movement to promote Islamic fundamentalism in Central Asia and so undermine secular political liberation and “destabilise” the Soviet Union, creating, as he wrote in his autobiography, “a few stirred up Muslims”. His grand plan coincided with the ambitions of the Pakistani dictator, General Zia ul-Haq, to dominate the region. In 1986, the CIA and Pakistan’s intelligence agency, the ISI, began to recruit people from around the world to join the Afghan jihad. The Saudi multi-millionaire Osama bin Laden was one of them. Operatives who would eventually join the Taliban and al-Qaeda, were recruited at an Islamic college in Brooklyn, New York, and given paramilitary training at a CIA camp in Virginia. This was called “Operation Cyclone”. Its success was celebrated in 1996 when the last PDPA president of Afghanistan, Mohammed Najibullah – who had gone before the UN General Assembly to plead for help – was hanged from a streetlight by the Taliban.

The “blowback” of Operation Cyclone and its “few stirred up Muslims” was September 11 2001. Operation Cyclone became the “war on terror”, in which countless men, women and children would lose their lives across the Muslim world, from Afghanistan to Iraq, Yemen, Somalia and Syria. The enforcer’s message was and remains: “You are with us or against us”.

The common thread in fascism, past and present, is mass murder. The American invasion of Vietnam had its “free fire zones”, “body counts” and “collatoral damage”. In the province of Quang Ngai, where I reported from, many thousands of civilians (“gooks”) were murdered by the US; yet only one massacre, at My Lai, is remembered. In Laos and Cambodia, the greatest aerial bombardment in history produced an epoch of terror marked today by the spectacle of joined-up bomb craters which, from the air, resemble monstrous necklaces. The bombing gave Cambodia its own ISIS, led by Pol Pot.

Today, the world’s greatest single campaign of terror entails the execution of entire families, guests at weddings, mourners at funerals. These are Obama’s victims. According to the New York Times, Obama makes his selection from a CIA “kill list” presented to him every Tuesday in the White House Situation Room. He then decides, without a shred of legal justification, who will live and who will die. His execution weapon is the Hellfire missile carried by a pilotless aircraft known as a drone; these roast their victims and festoon the area with their remains. Each “hit” is registered on a faraway console screen as a “bugsplat”.

“For goose-steppers”, wrote the historian Norman Pollock,

substitute the seemingly more innocuous militarisation of the total culture. And for the bombastic leader, we have the reformer manque, blithely at work, planning and executing assassination, smiling all the while.

Uniting fascism old and new is the cult of superiority. “I believe in American exceptionalism with every fibre of my being”, said Obama, evoking declarations of national fetishism from the 1930s. As the historian Alfred W McCoy has pointed out, it was the Hitler devotee, Carl Schmitt, who said, “The sovereign is he who decides the exception”. This sums up Americanism, the world’s dominant ideology. That it remains unrecognised as a predatory ideology is the achievement of an equally unrecognised brainwashing. Insidious, undeclared, presented wittily as enlightenment on the march, its conceit insinuates western culture. I grew up on a cinematic diet of American glory, almost all of it a distortion. I had no idea that it was the Red Army that had destroyed most of the Nazi war machine, at a cost of as many as thirteen million soldiers. By contrast, US losses, including in the Pacific, were 400,000. Hollywood reversed this.

The difference now is that cinema audiences are invited to wring their hands at the “tragedy” of American psychopaths having to kill people in distant places – just as the President himself kills them. The embodiment of Hollywood’s violence, the actor and director Clint Eastwood, was nominated for an Oscar this year for his movie, ‘American Sniper’, which is about a licensed murderer and nutcase. The New York Times described it as a “patriotic, pro-family picture which broke all attendance records in its opening days”.

There are no heroic movies about America’s embrace of fascism. During the Second World War, America (and Britain) went to war against Greeks who had fought heroically against Nazism and were resisting the rise of Greek fascism. In 1967, the CIA helped bring to power a fascist military junta in Athens – as it did in Brazil and most of Latin America. Germans and east Europeans who had colluded with Nazi aggression and crimes against humanity were given safe haven in the US; many were pampered and their talents rewarded. Wernher von Braun was the “father” of both the Nazi V-2 terror bomb and the US space programme.

In the 1990s, as former Soviet republics, eastern Europe and the Balkans became military outposts of Nato, the heirs to a Nazi movement in Ukraine were given their opportunity. Responsible for the deaths of thousands of Jews, Poles and Russians during the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, Ukrainian fascism was rehabilitated and its “new wave” hailed by the enforcer as “nationalists”.

This reached its apogee in 2014 when the Obama administration splashed out $5 billion on a coup against the elected government. The shock troops were neo-Nazis known as the Right Sector and Svoboda. Their leaders include  Oleh Tyahnybok, who has called for a purge of the “Moscow-Jewish mafia” and “other scum”, including gays, feminists and those on the political left.

These fascists are now integrated into the Kiev coup government. The first deputy speaker of the Ukrainian parliament, Andriy Parubiy, a leader of the governing party, is co-founder of Svoboda. On February 14, Parubiy announced he was flying to Washington get “the USA to give us highly precise modern weaponry”. If he succeeds, it will be seen as an act of war by Russia.

No western leader has spoken up about the revival of fascism in the heart of Europe – with the exception of Vladimir Putin, whose people lost 22 million to a Nazi invasion that came through the borderland of Ukraine. At the recent Munich Security Conference, Obama’s Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Victoria Nuland, ranted abuse about European leaders for opposing the US arming of the Kiev regime. She referred to the German Defence Minister as “the minister for defeatism”. It was Nuland who masterminded the coup in Kiev. The wife of Robert D Kagan, a leading “neo-con” luminary and co-founder of the extreme right wing Project for a New American Century, she was foreign policy advisor to Dick Cheney.

Nuland’s coup did not go to plan. Nato was prevented from seizing Russia’s historic, legitimate, warm-water naval base in Crimea. The mostly Russian population of Crimea – illegally annexed to Ukraine by Nikita Krushchev in 1954 – voted overwhelmingly to return to Russia, as they had done in the 1990s. The referendum was voluntary, popular and internationally observed. There was no invasion.

At the same time, the Kiev regime turned on the ethnic Russian population in the east with the ferocity of ethnic cleaning. Deploying neo-Nazi militias in the manner of the Waffen-SS, they bombed and laid to siege cities and towns. They used mass starvation as a weapon, cutting off electricity, freezing bank accounts, stopping social security and pensions. More than a million refugees fled across the border into Russia. In the western media, they became unpeople escaping “the violence” caused by the “Russian invasion”. The Nato commander, General Breedlove – whose name and actions might have been inspired by Stanley Kubrick’s Dr Strangelove – announced that 40,000 Russian troops were “massing”. In the age of forensic satellite evidence, he offered none.

These Russian-speaking and bilingual people of Ukraine – a third of the population – have long sought a federation that reflects the country’s ethnic diversity and is both autonomous and independent of Moscow. Most are not “separatists” but citizens who want to live securely in their homeland and oppose the power grab in Kiev. Their revolt and establishment of autonomous “states” are a reaction to Kiev’s attacks on them. Little of this has been explained to western audiences.

On May 2 2014, in Odessa, 41 ethnic Russians were burned alive in the trade union headquarters with police standing by. The Right Sector leader Dmytro Yarosh hailed the massacre as “another bright day in our national history”. In the American and British media, this was reported as a “murky tragedy” resulting from “clashes” between “nationalists” (neo-Nazis) and “separatists” (people collecting signatures for a referendum on a federal Ukraine).

The New York Times buried the story, having dismissed as Russian propaganda warnings about the fascist and anti-Semitic policies of Washington’s new clients. The Wall Street Journal damned the victims – “Deadly Ukraine Fire Likely Sparked by Rebels, Government Says”. Obama congratulated the junta for its “restraint”.

If Putin can be provoked into coming to their aid, his pre-ordained “pariah” role in the West will justify the lie that Russia is invading Ukraine. On January 29, Ukraine’s top military commander, General Viktor Muzhemko, almost inadvertently dismissed the very basis for US and EU sanctions on Russia when he told a news conference emphatically: “The Ukrainian army is not fighting with the regular units of the Russian Army”.  There were “individual citizens” who were members of “illegal armed groups”, but there was no Russian invasion. This was not news. Vadym Prystaiko, Kiev’s Deputy Foreign Minister, has called for “full scale war” with nuclear-armed Russia.

On February 21, US Senator James Inhofe, a Republican from Oklahoma, introduced a bill that would authorise American arms for the Kiev regime. In his Senate presentation, Inhofe used photographs he claimed were of Russian troops crossing into Ukraine, which have long been exposed as fakes. It was reminiscent of Ronald Reagan’s fake pictures of a Soviet installation in Nicaragua, and Colin Powell’s fake evidence to the UN of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

The intensity of the smear campaign against Russia and the portrayal of its president as a pantomime villain is unlike anything I have known as a reporter. Robert Parry, one of America’s most distinguished investigative journalists, who revealed the Iran-Contra scandal, wrote recently,

No European government, since Adolf Hitler’s Germany, has seen fit to dispatch Nazi storm troopers to wage war on a domestic population, but the Kiev regime has and has done so knowingly. Yet across the West’s media/political spectrum, there has been a studious effort to cover up this reality even to the point of ignoring facts that have been well established … If you wonder how the world could stumble into world war three – much as it did into world war one a century ago – all you need to do is look at the madness over Ukraine that has proved impervious to facts or reason.

In 1946, the Nuremberg Tribunal prosecutor said of the German media:

The use made by Nazi conspirators of psychological warfare is well known. Before each major aggression, with some few exceptions based on expediency, they initiated a press campaign calculated to weaken their victims and to prepare the German people psychologically for the attack … In the propaganda system of the Hitler State it was the daily press and the radio that were the most important weapons.

In the Guardian on February 2, Timothy Garton-Ash called, in effect, for a world war. “Putin must be stopped”, said the headline. “And sometimes only guns can stop guns”. He conceded that the threat of war might “nourish a Russian paranoia of encirclement”; but that was fine. He name-checked the military equipment needed for the job and advised his readers that “America has the best kit”.

In 2003, Garton-Ash, an Oxford professor, repeated the propaganda that led to the slaughter in Iraq. Saddam Hussein, he wrote, “has, as [Colin] Powell documented, stockpiled large quantities of horrifying chemical and biological weapons, and is hiding what remains of them. He is still trying to get nuclear ones”. He lauded Blair as a “Gladstonian, Christian liberal interventionist”. In 2006, he wrote, “Now we face the next big test of the West after Iraq: Iran”.

The outbursts – or as Garton-Ash prefers, his “tortured liberal ambivalence” – are not untypical of those in the transatlantic liberal elite who have struck a Faustian deal. The war criminal Blair is their lost leader. The Guardian, in which Garton-Ash’s piece appeared, published a full-page advertisement for an American Stealth bomber. On a menacing image of the Lockheed Martin monster were the words: “The F-35. GREAT For Britain”. This American “kit” will cost British taxpayers 1.3 billion GBP, its F-model predecessors having slaughtered across the world.  In tune with its advertiser, a Guardian editorial has demanded an increase in military spending.

Once again, there is serious purpose. The rulers of the world want Ukraine not only as a missile base; they want its economy. Kiev’s new Finance Minister, Nataliwe Jaresko, is a former senior US State Department official in charge of US overseas “investment”. She was hurriedly given Ukrainian citizenship. They want Ukraine for its abundant gas; Vice President Joe Biden’s son is on the board of Ukraine’s biggest oil, gas and fracking company. The manufacturers of GM seeds, companies such as the infamous Monsanto, want Ukraine’s rich farming soil.

Above all, they want Ukraine’s mighty neighbour, Russia. They want to Balkanise or dismember Russia and exploit the greatest source of natural gas on earth. As the Arctic ice melts, they want control of the Arctic Ocean and its energy riches, and Russia’s long Arctic land border. Their man in Moscow used to be Boris Yeltsin, a drunk, who handed his country’s economy to the West. His successor, Putin, has re-established Russia as a sovereign nation; that is his crime.

The responsibility of the rest of us is clear. It is to identify and expose the reckless lies of warmongers and never to collude with them. It is to re-awaken the great popular movements that brought a fragile civilisation to modern imperial states. Most important, it is to prevent the conquest of ourselves: our minds, our humanity, our self respect. If we remain silent, victory over us is assured, and a holocaust beckons.

http://johnpilger.com/articles/why-the-rise-of-fascism-is-again-the-issue

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The Great Decoupling

The one graph that ties together the strands making a New America.

The Fabius Maximus Website (February 25 2015)

https://fabiusmaximus.files.wordpress.com/2015/02/decoupoling-mcafee.png?w=1250&h=852

Andrew McAfee (December 12 2012) –  Click to enlarge.

http://fabiusmaximus.com/2015/02/25/inequality-middle-class-one-percent-victory-79494/

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What Progress Means

by John Michael Greer

The Archdruid Report (February 18 2015)

Last week’s post here on The Archdruid Report appears to have hit a nerve. That didn’t come as any sort of a surprise, admittedly.  It’s one thing to point out that going back to the simpler and less energy-intensive technologies of earlier eras could help extract us from the corner into which industrial society has been busily painting itself in recent decades; it’s quite another to point out that doing this can also be great fun, more so than anything that comes out of today’s fashionable technologies, and in a good many cases the results include an objectively better quality of life as well

That’s not one of the canned speeches that opponents of progress are supposed to make. According to the folk mythology of modern industrial culture, since progress always makes things better, the foes of whatever gets labeled as progress are supposed to put on hair shirts and insist that everyone has to suffer virtuously from a lack of progress, for some reason based on sentimental superstition. The Pygmalion effect being what it is, it’s not hard to find opponents of progress who say what they’re expected to say, and thus fulfill their assigned role in contemporary culture, which is to stand there in their hair shirts bravely protesting until the steamroller of progress rolls right over them.

The grip of that particular bit of folk mythology on the collective imagination of our time is tight enough that when somebody brings up some other reason to oppose “progress” – we’ll get into the ambiguities behind that familiar label in a moment – a great many people quite literally can’t absorb what’s actually being said, and respond instead to the canned speeches they expect to hear. Thus I had several people attempt to dispute the comments on last week’s post, castigating my readers with varying degrees of wrath and profanity for thinking that they had to sacrifice the delights of today’s technology and go creeping mournfully back to the unsatisfying lifestyles of an earlier day.

That was all the more ironic in that none of the readers who were commenting on the post were saying anything of the kind. Most of them were enthusiastically talking about how much more durable, practical, repairable, enjoyable, affordable, and user-friendly older technologies are compared to the disposable plastic trash that fills the stores these days. They were discussing how much more fun it is to embrace the delights of outdated technologies than it would be to go creeping mournfully back – or forward, if you prefer – to the unsatisfying lifestyles of the present time. That heresy is far more than the alleged openmindness and intellectual diversity of our age is willing to tolerate, so it’s not surprising that some people tried to pretend that nothing of the sort had been said at all. What was surprising to me, and pleasantly so, was the number of readers who were ready to don the party clothes of some earlier time and join in the Butlerian carnival.

There are subtleties to the project of deliberate technological regress that may not be obvious at first glance, though, and it seems sensible to discuss those here before we proceed.  It’s important, to begin with, to remember that when talking heads these days babble about technology in the singular, as a uniform, monolithic thing that progresses according to some relentless internal logic of its own, they’re spouting balderdash.  In the real world, there’s no such monolith; instead, there are technologies in the plural, a great many of them, clustered more or less loosely in technological suites which may or may not have any direct relation to one another.

An example might be useful here. Consider the technologies necessary to build a steel-framed bicycle. The metal parts require the particular suite of technologies we use to smelt ores, combine the resulting metals into useful alloys, and machine and weld those into shapes that fit together to make a bicycle. The tires, inner tubes, brake pads, seat cushion, handlebar grips, and paint require a different suite of technologies drawing on various branches of applied organic chemistry, and a few other suites also have a place:  for example, the one that’s needed to make and apply lubricants  The suites that make a bicycle have other uses; if you can build a bicycle, as Orville and Wilbur Wright demonstrated, you can also build an aircraft, and a variety of other interesting machines as well; that said, there are other technologies – say, the ones needed to manufacture medicines, or precision optics, or electronics – that require very different technological suites. You can have everything you need to build a bicycle and still be unable to make a telescope or a radio receiver, and vice versa.

Strictly speaking, therefore, nothing requires the project of deliberate technological regress to move in lockstep to the technologies of a specific past date and stay there. It would be wholly possible to dump certain items of modern technology while keeping others. It would be just as possible to replace one modern technological suite with an older equivalent from one decade, another with an equivalent from a different decade and so on. Imagine, for example, a future America in which solar water heaters (worked out by 1920) and passive solar architecture (mostly developed in the 1960s and 1970s) were standard household features, canal boats (dating from before 1800) and tall ships (ditto) were the primary means of bulk transport, shortwave radio (developed in the early 20th century) was the standard long-range communications medium, ultralight aircraft (largely developed in the 1980s) were still in use, and engineers crunched numbers using slide rules (perfected around 1880).

There’s no reason why such a pastiche of technologies from different eras couldn’t work. We know this because what passes for modern technology is a pastiche of the same kind, in which (for example) cars whose basic design dates from the 1890s are gussied up with onboard computers invented a century later. Much of modern technology, in fact, is old technology with a new coat of paint and a few electronic gimmicks tacked on, and it’s old technology that originated in many different eras, too. Part of what differentiates modern technology from older equivalents, in other words, is mere fashion. Another part, though, moves into more explosive territory.

In the conversation that followed last week’s post, one of my readers – tip of the archdruid’s hat to Cathy – recounted the story of the one and only class on advertising she took at college. The teacher invited a well-known advertising executive to come in and talk about the business, and one of the points he brought up was the marketing of disposable razors. The old-fashioned steel safety razor, the guy admitted cheerfully, was a much better product: it was more durable, less expensive, and gave a better shave than disposable razors. Unfortunately, it didn’t make the kind of profits for the razor industry that the latter wanted, and so the job of the advertising company was to convince shavers that they really wanted to spend more money on a worse product instead.

I know it may startle some people to hear a luxuriantly bearded archdruid talk about shaving, but I do have a certain amount of experience with the process – though admittedly it’s been a while. The executive was quite correct: an old-fashioned safety razor gives better shaves than a disposable. What’s more, an old-fashioned safety razor combined with a shaving brush, a cake of shaving soap, a mug and a bit of hot water from the teakettle produces a shaving experience that’s vastly better, in every sense, than what you’ll get from squirting cold chemical-laced foam out of a disposable can and then scraping your face with a disposable razor; the older method, furthermore, takes no more time, costs much less on a per-shave basis, and has a drastically smaller ecological footprint to boot.

Notice also the difference in the scale and complexity of the technological suites needed to maintain these two ways of shaving. To shave with a safety razor and shaving soap, you need the metallurgical suite that produces razors and razor blades, the very simple household-chemistry suite that produces soap, the ability to make pottery and brushes, and some way to heat water. To shave with a disposable razor and a can of squirt-on shaving foam, you need fossil fuels for plastic feedstocks, chemical plants to manufacture the plastic and the foam, the whole range of technologies needed to manufacture and fill the pressurized can, and so on – all so that you can count on getting an inferior shave at a higher price, and the razor industry can boost its quarterly profits.

That’s a small and arguably silly example of a vast and far from silly issue. These days, when you see the words “new and improved” on a product, rather more often than not, the only thing that’s been improved is the bottom line of the company that’s trying to sell it to you. When you hear equivalent claims about some technology that’s being marketed to society as a whole, rather than sold to you personally, the same rule applies at least as often. That’s one of the things that drove the enthusiastic conversations on this blog’s comment page last week, as readers came out of hiding to confess that they, too, had stopped using this or that piece of cutting-edge, up-to-date, hypermodern trash, and replaced it with some sturdy, elegant, user-friendly device from an earlier decade which works better and lacks the downsides of the newer item.

What, after all, defines a change as “progress”? There’s a wilderness of ambiguities hidden in that apparently simple word. The popular notion of progress presupposes that there’s an inherent dynamic to history, that things change, or tend to change, or at the very least ought to change, from worse to better over time.  That presupposition then gets flipped around into the even more dubious claim that just because something’s new, it must be better than whatever it replaced. Move from there to specific examples, and all of a sudden it’s necessary to deal with competing claims – if there are two hot new technologies on the market, is option A more progressive than option B, or vice versa? The answer, of course, is that whichever of them manages to elbow the other aside will be retroactively awarded the coveted title of the next step in the march of progress.

That was exactly the process by which the appropriate tech of the 1970s was shoved aside and buried in the memory hole of our culture. In its heyday, appropriate tech was as cutting-edge and progressive as anything you care to name, a rapidly advancing field pushed forward by brilliant young engineers and innovative startups, and it saw itself (and presented itself to the world) as the wave of the future. In the wake of the Reagan-Thatcher counterrevolution of the 1980s, though, it was retroactively stripped of its erstwhile status as an icon of progress and consigned to the dustbin of the past. Technologies that had been lauded in the media as brilliantly innovative in 1978 were thus being condemned in the same media as Luddite throwbacks by 1988. If that abrupt act of redefinition reminds any of my readers of the way history got rewritten in George Orwell’s 1984 – “Oceania has never been allied with Eurasia” and the like – well, let’s just say the parallel was noticed at the time, too.

The same process on a much smaller scale can be traced with equal clarity in the replacement of the safety razor and shaving soap with the disposable razor and squirt-can shaving foam. In what sense is the latter, which wastes more resources and generates more trash in the process of giving users a worse shave at a higher price, more progressive than the former? Merely the fact that it’s been awarded that title by advertising and the media. If razor companies could make more money by reintroducing the Roman habit of scraping beard hairs off the face with a chunk of pumice, no doubt that would quickly be proclaimed as the last word in cutting-edge, up-to-date hypermodernity, too.

Behind the mythological image of the relentless and inevitable forward march of technology-in-the-singular in the grand cause of progress, in other words, lies a murky underworld of crass commercial motives and no-holds-barred struggles over which of the available technologies will get the funding and marketing that will define it as the next great step in progress. That’s as true of major technological programs as it is of shaving supplies. Some of my readers are old enough, as I am, to remember when supersonic airliners and undersea habitats were the next great steps in progress, until all of a sudden they weren’t.  We may not be all that far from the point at which space travel and nuclear power will go the way of Sealab and the Concorde.

In today’s industrial societies, we don’t talk about that. It’s practically taboo these days to mention the long, long list of waves of the future that abruptly stalled and rolled back out to sea without delivering on their promoters’ overblown promises. Remind people that the same rhetoric currently being used to prop up faith in space travel, nuclear power, or any of today’s other venerated icons of the religion of progress was lavished just as thickly on these earlier failures, and you can pretty much expect to have that comment shouted down as an irrelevancy if the other people in the conversation don’t simply turn their backs and pretend that they never heard you say anything at all.

They have to do something of the sort, because the alternative is to admit that what we call “progress” isn’t the impersonal, unstoppable force of nature that industrial culture’s ideology insists it must be. Pay attention to the grand technological projects that failed, compare them with those that are failing now, and it’s impossible to keep ignoring certain crucial if hugely unpopular points. To begin with technological progress is a function of collective choices – do we fund Sealab or the Apollo program? Supersonic transports or urban light rail? Energy conservation and appropriate tech or an endless series of wars in the Middle East? No impersonal force makes those decisions; individuals and institutions make them, and then use the rhetoric of impersonal progress to cloak the political and financial agendas that guide the decision-making process.

What’s more, even if the industrial world chooses to invest its resources in a project, the laws of physics and economics determine whether the project is going to work. The Concorde is the poster child here, a technological success but an economic flop that never even managed to cover its operating costs. Like nuclear power, it was only viable given huge and continuing government subsidies, and since the strategic benefits Britain and France got from having Concordes in the air were nothing like so great as those they got from having an independent source of raw material for nuclear weapons, it’s not hard to see why the subsidies went where they did.

That is to say, when something is being lauded as the next great step forward in the glorious march of progress leading humanity to a better world, those who haven’t drunk themselves tipsy on folk mythology need to keep four things in mind. The first is that the next great step forward  in the glorious march of progres (et cetera) might not actually work when it’s brought down out of the billowing clouds of overheated rhetoric into the cold hard world of everyday life. The second is that even if it works, the next great step forward (et cetera) may be a white elephant in economic terms, and survive only so long as it gets propped up by subsidies. The third is that even if it does make economic sense, the next great step (et cetera) may be an inferior product, and do a less effective job of meeting human needs than whatever it’s supposed to replace. The fourth is that when it comes right down to it, to label something as the next great (et cetera) is just a sales pitch, an overblown and increasingly trite way of saying “Buy this product!”

Those necessary critiques, in turn, are all implicit in the project of deliberate technological regress. Get past the thoughtstopping rhetoric that insists “you can’t turn back the clock” – to rephrase a comment of G K Chesterton’s, most people turn back the clock every fall, so that’s hardly a valid objection – and it becomes hard not to notice that “progress” is just a label for whatever choices happen to have been made by governments and corporations, with or without input from the rest of us. If we don’t like the choices that have been made for us in the name of progress, in turn, we can choose something else.

Now of course it’s possible to stuff that sort of thinking back into the straitjacket of progress, and claim that progress is chugging along just fine, and all we have to do is get it back on the proper track, or what have you. This is a very common sort of argument, and one that’s been used over and over again by critics of this or that candidate for the next (et cetera). The problem with that argument, as I see it, is that it may occasionally win battles but it pretty consistently loses the war; by failing to challenge the folk mythology of progress and the agendas that are enshrined by that mythology, it guarantees that no matter what technology or policy or program gets put into place, it’ll end up leading the same place as all the others before it, because it questions the means but forgets to question the goals.

That’s the trap hardwired into the contemporary faith in progress. Once you buy into the notion that the specific choices made by industrial societies over the last three centuries or so are something more than the projects that happened to win out in the struggle for wealth and power, once you let yourself believe that there’s a teleology to it all – that there’s some objectively definable goal called “progress” that all these choices did a better or worse job of furthering – you’ve just made it much harder to ask where this thing called “progress” is going. The word “progress,” remember, means going further in the same direction, and it’s precisely questions about the direction that industrial society is going that most need to be asked.

I’d like to suggest, in fact, that going further in the direction we’ve been going isn’t a particularly bright idea just now.  It isn’t even necessary to point to the more obviously self-destructive dimensions of business as usual. Look at any trend that affects your life right now, however global or local that trend may be, and extrapolate it out in a straight line indefinitely; that’s what going further in the same direction means. If that appeals to you, dear reader, then you’re certainly welcome to it.  I have to say it doesn’t do much for me.

It’s only from within the folk mythology of progress that we have no choice but to accept the endless prolongation of current trends. Right now, as individuals, we can choose to shrug and walk away from the latest hypermodern trash, and do something else instead. Later on, on the far side of the crisis of our time, it may be possible to take the same logic further, and make deliberate technological regress a recognized policy option for organizations, communities, and whole nations – but that will depend on whether individuals do the thing first, and demonstrate to everyone else that it’s a workable option. In next week’s post, we’ll talk more about where that strategy might lead.

_____

John Michael Greer is the Grand Archdruid of the Ancient Order of Druids in America {1} and the author of more than thirty books on a wide range of subjects, including peak oil and the future of industrial society. He lives in Cumberland, Maryland, an old red brick mill town in the north central Appalachians, with his wife Sara.

Link {1}: http://www.aoda.org

http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.jp/2015/02/what-progress-means.html

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Is Japan’s Prime Minister the Next Putin?

by John Feffer

Foreign Policy in Focus (February 25 2015)

In the ads in the back of old comic books, a skinny little kid is hanging out at the beach when a bully comes along and kicks sand in his face.

The little kid, who weighed 97 pounds at the time, was Angelo Siciliano. He hightailed it to the gym, where he worked out with weights until he turned himself into someone no bully would ever think of attacking. In addition to getting a new job as the strongman at the circus, Siciliano changed his name to Charles Atlas and began promoting his weight-training regimen to other skinny kids.

The Japanese government would like us to believe that it was hanging out on the beach, minding its own business, when it too got a mouthful of sand kicked into its face. And now Tokyo is bulking up accordingly.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe bills his more assertive military policy as an entirely defensive response to a world of bullies. During the territorial dispute over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands, for instance, China played the role of sandkicker. Before that, it was North Korea. Now, many Japanese refer to the Islamic State’s (ISIS) execution of two Japanese journalists as the country’s “9-11 moment”, the justification for shredding the “peace constitution” that has presumably prevented the country from becoming as manly as other world powers.

Given that Japan’s army is still called the Self-Defense Forces, it makes sense for Abe to portray the effort to create a “normal” foreign policy as a response to the aggression of others. But it’s not as simple as the Abe government would like us to believe.

Abe is the front man for a Japanese political faction that wants to purge the country of its lingering pacifism so as to reorder East Asia with a militarily powerful Japan at its center. He can’t make this change, however, without US support, which according to the quid pro quos of geopolitics, requires Tokyo to facilitate the upgrade of the Pentagon’s footprint on Okinawa over the wishes of the island’s inhabitants.

It’s one thing to gain Washington’s approval. It’s quite another to overcome both the bitter feelings of other East Asians and the genuine remorse of so many Japanese themselves over the horrors that Tokyo inflicted on the region in the first half of the twentieth century.

To get around this problem, Abe has to engage in a complicated PR campaign. That’s why he is carefully using a series of “shocks” –  from North Korean missile launches and Chinese naval maneuvers to events far away in the Middle East –  as the justification for the radical transformation of Japan’s behavior and appearance.

Abe’s Agenda

This is Shinzo Abe’s second shot at the prime minister spot, and he’s eager to push through his agenda this time around. He has presented himself as a palatable nationalist, one who can restore pride in Japan without discomfiting allies like the United States, partners like South Korea, and competitors like China.

But the agenda of Abe and his even more nationalist allies is actually quite radical.

In his first round as prime minister, he pushed schools to teach patriotism, upgraded the defense agency to a ministry, and laid the groundwork for ridding the constitution of the section –  Article 9 –  that prohibits the country from making war. He also wanted to create a National Security Council and a more powerful intelligence agency. These were not modest ambitions, particularly for a politician who couldn’t seem to prevent his administration from descending into one scandal after another. Abe’s popularity plummeted, and he lasted only one year in office.

Shortly after his resignation, Japan announced that it would withdraw its naval vessels from the Indian Ocean, where they were providing fuel to the coalition forces fighting in Afghanistan. The opposition Democratic Party of Japan was gaining strength, and it would ultimately put a more peaceable prime minister, Yukio Hatoyama, into office. Japan, it seemed, was increasingly uncomfortable with the nationalist alternative that Abe and others were offering. But Hatoyama himself lasted less than a year –  in large part because of US pushback against his unorthodox foreign policy positions –  and the conservatives plotted their return to power.

In his second time around, Abe is taking full advantage of political opportunities to advance the agenda that was thwarted in 2006. For instance, he visited the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, which houses the spirits of the war dead, including war criminals. The visit sends a signal to outsiders that Japan doesn’t really care about the sensibilities of neighboring governments and a message to Japanese that this prime minister will push his constitutional agenda forward regardless of the domestic obstacles. Less publicized was his participation in an important Shinto ritual  that happens every twenty years –  the rebuilding of the Ise Shrine –  that effectively blurred the distinction between religion and state.

But his real focus has been on the military. Japanese governments have long employed “salami tactics” to get around constitutional prohibitions. Efforts by earlier administrations included lifting a ban on arms exports and another on participating in military operations like the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts (albeit in a non-combat role). Last July, Abe issued a cabinet decision –  the Japanese equivalent of a presidential order –  that committed Japan to collective self-defense , which means that Tokyo can fight on behalf of allies even if Japan itself is not under attack.

None of these changes means anything, however, if Japan doesn’t have the military strength to back them up. And in this regard, Tokyo was far from a 97-pound weakling when Abe came to power. After routinely being among the top five military spenders in the world, Japan has built up one of the most powerful fighting forces in the world.

But Abe wasn’t content with the informal rule that Japan would restrict its military spending to one percent of GDP. He breached that limit with his first budget in 2013. And last January, the Japanese government approved a record military budget of approximately $42 billion, a 2.8-percent increase over last year’s figure. The money will go to a number of high-tech items that could very easily serve offensive functions, such as stealth fighters and amphibious vehicles.

But the Holy Grail for Abe remains the constitutional revision. As Kristin Surak writes for The Diplomat, the Abe document would not just remove Article 9 to create a “normal” army:

It would emphasize the importance of maintaining public order over protecting individual rights, such as free speech. Eroding the position of the individual yet further, the family would replace the person as the basic unit of society.

Like Viktor Orban in Hungary and Vladimir Putin in Russia, Shinzo Abe aims for nothing short of complete regime change. He wants to transform Japan into an “illiberal state”.

Overpowering Okinawa

Just how illiberal the Japanese state can become is best illustrated in Tokyo’s treatment of Okinawa.

For nearly two decades, the Pentagon has been eager to close the Futenma Marine Air Force and build a replacement facility elsewhere on the island. At least three-quarters of the islanders oppose this new base (which is technically a massive expansion of an existing facility). Leaders at every political level in Okinawa –  from the governor down to the mayor of the town where the new facility is planned –  oppose the plan.

Heedless of Okinawan opinion, the authorities in Tokyo have begun the preparations for construction. Okinawa’s new governor Takeshi Onaga, elected on an anti-base platform, has ordered this pre-construction to stop because of coral damage.

You might expect that to be the end of discussion –  Onaga is, after all, the top official on the island. But the Abe government has shown its absolute disdain for democracy by refusing to even meet with the governor. In February, he tried for the third time, but both Abe and Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said they were too busy for a meeting. At least Abe is consistent. If he’s going to ignore the wishes of the vast majority of Okinawans, he should ignore the governor as well.

Okinawans continue to use their bodies to obstruct the construction project. They’ve maintained a protest against this project for an astounding eighteen years. They’re even kayaking into the construction area to block the surveying. “Even though the kayakers are out numbered and out powered, still they constitute a major obstruction: so much energy is spent trying to keep them out that it’s hard to get much work done”, writes Douglas Loomis, a longtime democracy activist living in Okinawa.

Dilemma for Obama

The United States has long wanted Japan to shoulder more of the financial burdens of the alliance and also break out of its own constitutional restraints to support US military operations around the world.

At the same time, successive administrations in Washington have been irritated that its chief allies in the region, Japan and South Korea, don’t get along better –  and that Tokyo hasn’t, like Germany, atoned for its past conduct in a way that its neighbors find sufficient.

In other words, the United States has wanted all the putative benefits of Japanese militarism and none of the very real consequences.

As Michael Auslin has written,

There are those in the administration who are uncomfortable with Abe’s reading of the past and his future ambitions. They are concerned about what role a more independent Japan might carve out in the region. Ideologically, the Obama administration was undoubtedly closer to the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) when they were in power. But US-Japan relations were worse under DPJ leadership because it upended the realignment process, which raised questions about the future of the alliance.

“Upended the realignment process” is another way of saying that Hatoyama and the DPJ opposed the new base construction and actually wanted to see the United States shrink its military footprint in Japan. The Obama administration was not willing to forgo its own military ambitions in Asia –  the much-vaunted “Pacific pivot” –  so the only alternative was to encourage Japan in its own Charles Atlas fantasies.

It’s not too late for the Obama administration to see the folly of its bedfellows. The Abe agenda is anti-democratic and profoundly destabilizing for the region. Japan’s current constitution is not simply a check on the country’s militarism. It is also a constraint on Abe’s will to power domestically. The Okinawans, among others, are standing up to Abe. As a first step to ensure the peace and stability of East Asia, the United States should honor their democratically expressed desires and cancel the new base construction on their island.

See also:

http://fpif.org/japan-antagonizing-everyone/

http://fpif.org/abe-road/

http://thediplomat.com/2014/12/shinzo-abes-new-mandate/

http://fpif.org/the_hashimoto_controversy_and_japans_failure_to_come_to_terms_with_its_past/

http://fpif.org/marching_orders_for_japans_reactionaries/

http://www.defenseone.com/ideas/2015/02/how-shinzo-abe-modernizing-japans-military/105540/

Links:

The original version of this article, at the URL below, contains links to further information not included here,

fpif.orghttp://fpif.org/japans-prime-minister-next-putin/

Categories: Uncategorized

European Banks versus Greek Labour

Michael Hudson says Greece’s Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis is proposing austerity on the banking class, rather than the working class, to balance the budget.

The Real News Network (February 24 2015)
    

SHARMINI PERIES, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I’m Sharmini Peries, coming to you from Baltimore.

The four-month extension secured by the Greek finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, on Friday came with the condition that Greece provide a list of measures to quell the concerns of its international lenders, especially the German banks represented by the finance ministers in Brussels, who feared that Athens might bail on the promises to cut spending and implement austerity measures. So, on Sunday, Athens provided that list.

Now joining us to discuss the tabled plan is Michael Hudson. He is a distinguished research professor of economics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. His upcoming book is titled Killing the Host: How Financial Parasites and Debt Bondage Destroyed the Global Economy.

Thank you so much for joining us, Michael.

MICHAEL HUDSON, ECONOMICS PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI, KANSAS CITY: Thank you.

PERIES: So, Michael, these international banks represented by the finance ministers now in Brussels, when they were in crisis and we the public treasury bailed them out, they had no problem with that. Why are they now refusing to assist Greece at a time of need when in fact some politicians and even the troika is being more receptive to what Greece is saying?

HUDSON: Because what’s at issue really is a class war. It’s not so much Germany versus Greece, as the papers say. It’s really the war of the banks against labor. And it’s a continuation of Thatcherism and neoliberalism.

The problem isn’t simply that the troika wants Greece to balance the budget; it wanted Greece to balance the budget by lowering wages and by imposing austerity on the labor force. But instead, the terms in which Varoufakis has suggested balancing the budget are to impose austerity on the financial class, on the tycoons, on the tax dodgers. And he said, okay, instead of lowering pensions to the workers, instead of shrinking the domestic market, instead of pursuing a self-defeating austerity, we’re going to raise two and a half billion from the powerful Greek tycoons. We’re going to collect the back taxes that they have. We’re going to crack down on illegal smuggling of oil and the other networks and on the real estate owners that have been avoiding taxes, because the Greek upper classes have become notorious for tax dodging.

Well, this has infuriated the banks, because it turns out the finance ministers of Europe are not all in favor of balancing the budget if it has to be balanced by taxing the rich, because the banks know that whatever taxes the rich are able to avoid ends up being paid to the banks. So now the gloves are off and the class war is sort of back. Originally, Varoufakis thought he was negotiating with the troika, that is, with the IMF, the European Central Bank, and the Euro Council. But instead they said, no, no, you’re negotiating with the finance ministers. And the finance ministers in Europe are very much like Tim Geithner in the United States. They’re lobbyists for the big banks. And the finance minister said, how can we screw up this and make sure that we treat Greece as an object lesson, pretty much like America treated Cuba in 1960?

PERIES: Hold on, hold on for one second, Michael. Let’s explain that, because Yanis Varoufakis, the finance minister of Greece, is very well-briefed and very well-positioned to negotiate all of this. Now, why did he think he was negotiating with the troika when in fact he was negotiating with [crosstalk]

HUDSON: Because officially that’s who he’s negotiating with. He went and he took them at their word. And then he found out – and yesterday, Jamie Galbraith, who went with him to Europe, published in Fortune a description saying, wait a minute, the finance ministers are fighting with the troika. The troika don’t have their story straight. The troika and the finance ministers are all fighting among themselves over what exactly is to be done. And to really throw a monkey wrench in, the German finance minister, Schauble, said, wait a minute, we’ve got to bring in the Spanish government and the Portuguese government and the Finnish government, and they’ve got to agree.

Well, all of a sudden the position of Spain, for instance, is, wait a minute, we’re in power, we’re a Thatcherite neoliberal party. If Greece ends up not going along with austerity and saving its workers, then Podemos Party in Spain is going to win the next election and we’ll be out of power. We have to make sure that Varoufakis and the SYRIZA Party is a failure, so that we ourselves can tell the working class, you see what happened to Greece? It got smashed, and we’re going to smash you if you try to do what they do; if you try to tax the rich, if you try to take over the banks and prevent the kleptocracy, there’s going to be a disaster.

So, obviously, Greece and Portugal want to impose austerity on – Spain and Portugal want to impose austerity on Greece. And even Ireland now has chimed in and said, my God, what have we done? We have imposed austerity for a decade in order to bail out the banks. Even the IMF has criticized us for going along with Europe and bailing out the banks and imposing austerity. If SYRIZA wins in avoiding austerity in Greece, then all of our sacrifice of our population, all of the poverty that we’ve imposed, all of the Thatcherism that we’ve imposed has been needless, and we didn’t have to do it.

So there’s a whole demonstration effect, which is why they’re treating Greece almost as a symbol for the class war – as a symbol for labor saying, wait a minute, we don’t have to impose austerity, we can collect taxes from the tax dodgers.

Remember a few years ago when Europe said, Greece owes fifty billion euros in foreign debt? Well, it turned out that the central bank had given to the Greek parties a list called the Lagarde list (for Christine Lagarde, head of the IMF) of all of the tax dodgers, Greek tax dodgers who had Swiss bank accounts. Well, the Swiss bank accounts that the tax dodgers had ended up to about fifty billion euros. So Greece could pay off the debt that it’s borrowed simply by moving against the tax dodgers.

But, of course, this would be at the expense of the Swiss banks and the other banks. So in effect the banks would be paying themselves. And they don’t want to pay themselves. They want to squeeze it out of labor and let the tax dodgers and the Greek tycoons succeed in stealing the money from the government. So, in effect, the troika – not the troika, the finance ministers, really, are backing the tax dodgers and the crooks in Greece that SYRIZA is trying to move against, whereas the IMF is actually, for once, taking a softer position towards the whole thing. And even President Obama has chimed in by apparently calling German Prime Minister Merkel and saying, look, you can’t just push austerity beyond the point, because you’re going to push them out of the euro, and you’ll push them out of the euro on SYRIZA’s terms, where SYRIZA can then turn to the Greek population and say, wait a minute, we did what we promised here. We stopped the austerity. We didn’t withdraw from the euro; we were driven out as part of the class war.

PERIES: Michael, earlier you were also making an analogy between what’s going on in Greece and what happened to Cuba [crosstalk]

HUDSON: Cuba under Castro had an alternative social system. He wanted to spread the wealth around (it was a Marxist system) in his way. He wanted to get rid of really the crooks around Batista who were running the country, the rich who didn’t pay taxes, and he wanted to have a social revolution there. So the American government said, wait a minute, if Cuba succeeds, then they’re going to be a revolution all throughout Latin America. Latin Americans can realize, wait a minute, we can take over the American sugar companies there, we can take over the American banana companies there, we can make the rich pay the taxes and the corporations pay the taxes and the exporters pay the taxes, not simply the labor. We can unionize labor, we can educate it, and if Cuba can educate labor, that would be a disaster for the neoliberal plan, because if labor’s educated and has a program, then it’ll realize that there is an alternative to Thatcherism.

Well, this is the problem that Varoufakis wrote about in an article earlier this month in The Guardian on how he came out of the Marxist movement. He said, the whole problem that we’re facing in Greece is that if we withdraw from the euro, if we’re forced out, there’s going to be an economic trauma, and the left wing throughout Europe, as in America, doesn’t really have an economic program. It has a political program, but not really an economic program. And the only alternative to SYRIZA with an economic program are the New Dawn movement and the neo-Nazis. And what Varoufakis is worried about is he’s not only contending with the European finance ministers on one front, but he’s contending on the Greek front with the right-wing parties that are the nationalist parties, like Marie Le Pen in France, the parties that are saying, yes, we have an alternative: withdraw from the euro. But it’s not the kind of withdrawal and alternative that the left wing would have, because there really isn’t much of a left wing in Greece, apart from the small SYRIZA party, certainly not Papandreou’s socialist party, and certainly not the nominally socialist party in Spain, which is a Thatcherite party, and it’s certainly not the British Labour Party, which has gone the way of Tony Blair.

So the problem is that Varoufakis has about four months to educate the Greek public in the fact that, yes, there is alternative, here’s what it is. The alternative to neoliberalism doesn’t have to be right-wing nationalism. There is a socialist alternative, and we’re trying to work out as many arrangements we can, so if we’re driven out of the euro and if the banks go under, we have a fallback plan. He can’t come right out and say this is the plan right now, because it has to be made very clear that it’s the finance ministers of Germany, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, and Finland that are driving Greece out, not the IMF, not the European Central Bank, and not even centrist governments.

PERIES: Michael, thank you so much for joining us on The Real News Network today, and we’ll be following this story at The Real News. So do join us very soon again.

HUDSON: It’s always good to be here. Thank you.

PERIES: Thank you very much for joining us on The Real News Network.

End

_____

Michael Hudson is a Distinguished Research Professor of Economics at the University of Missouri, Kansas City. His two newest books are The Bubble and Beyond (2012) and Finance Capitalism and its Discontents (2012). His upcoming book is titled Killing the Host: How Financial Parasites and Debt Bondage Destroy the Global Economy.

DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.

http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=13280

Categories: Uncategorized

The Battle Behind the Fog of Propaganda

The “Exceptional” US Suffers Crushing Defeat in Debaltsevo   

by Mike Whitney

CounterPunch Weekend Edition (February 20 to 22 2015)

There’s no city left. It’s destroyed.

–  Anonymous Ukrainian soldier following the battle of Debaltsevo

In less than a year, the United States has toppled the democratically-elected government of Ukraine, installed a Washington-backed stooge in Kiev, launched a bloody and costly war of annihilation on Russian-speaking people in the East, thrust the economy into a downward death spiral, and reduced the nation to an anarchic, failed state destined to endure a vicious fratricidal civil war for as far as the eye can see.

Last week, Washington suffered its greatest military defeat in more than a decade when Ukraine’s US-backed army was soundly routed in the major railway hub of Debaltsevo. Roughly, 8,000 Ukrainian regulars along with untold numbers of tanks and armored units were surrounded in what-came-to-be-known-as “the cauldron”.  The army of the Donetsk Peoples Republic led by DPR commander  Alexander Zakharchenko, encircled the invading army and gradually tightened the cordon, eventually killing or capturing most of the troops within the pocket. The Ukrainian Armed Forces suffered major casualties ranging between  3,000 to 3,500 while a vast amount of lethal military hardware was left behind.

According to Zakharchenko, “The amount of equipment Ukrainian units have lost here is beyond description”.

Additionally, the US-backed proxy-army saw many of its crack troops and top-notch units destroyed in the fighting leaving Kiev unable to continue the war without assistance from allies in the US or Europe.  The full impact of the defeat will not be known until angry troops returning from the front amass on the streets of the Capital and demand Petro Poroshenko’s resignation. The Ukrainian President is responsible for the massacre at Debaltsevo.  He was fully aware that his army faced encirclement but ordered them to remain in order to satisfy powerful right-wing elements in his government. The disaster is even more terrible due to the fact that it was entirely avoidable and achieved no strategic purpose at all. Extreme hubris frequently impacts outcomes on the battlefield. This was the case at Debaltsevo.

The debacle ensures that the bumbling president’s days are numbered. It’s nearly certain that he will either be replaced or hanged sometime in weeks ahead. He has already flown his family to safety out of the country, and there’s growing speculation that both Washington and the far-right nationalists who occupy the Security Services will insist on his removal. That paves the way for a second Ukrainian coup in less than a year, a grim reminder of the tragic failings of US policy in Ukraine. Check out this blurb from a post at the Vineyard of the Saker:

Looks like the Nazi death squads are on the march again, this time they are looking at Kiev.  Thirteen death-squad (aka “volunteer battalion”) leaders have now declared that they are forming their own military command under the command of the notorious Semen Semenchenko. Officially, they are not in any way opposed to the current regime, so said Semenchenko, but in reality their rank and file members are pretty clear about what they want to do: organize a third Maidan and toss out Poroshenko.

What makes these 21st century version of the SA so dangerous for Poroshenko it that he, unlike Hitler, does not have a 21st century version of the SS to eliminate them all overnight.  In fact, according to many reports the entire southern part of the rump-Ukraine is now “Kolomoiski-land” fully under the control of the oligarch who finances these death-squads.  Add to this the fact that most of the Rada is composed of the very same battalion commanders and assorted Nazi freaks, and you will why Poroshenko is now very much in danger …

The sad reality is that there is simply nobody in the Ukraine capable of disarming these so-called “volunteer battalions”.  There are now thousands of uniformed Nazi freaks roaming around with guns who can now impose their law of the jungle on everybody.  It sure looks like the future of Banderastan will be something like a mix of Somalia and Mad Max – a failed state, a comprehensively destroyed economy, a collapsed social order and the law of armed gangs of thugs. {1}

If Poroshenko is doomed to be the scapegoat in the Debaltsevo cock-up, it’s only because he followed the foolhardy advice of his Washington paymasters. Had he listened to his military advisors instead, he probably would have withdrawn his troops earlier and spared himself a Gadhafi-like demise.  Now, that’s probably no longer possible.

Poroshenko’s desperation has led to an appeal to western allies and the United Nations for the deployment of a peacekeeping mission in Ukraine.  The request is an admission of defeat and has no chance of being implemented, mainly because it  violates the terms of the recent peace agreement (Minsk 2.0), but, also, because voting members on the Security Council (Russia and China) are certain to veto the idea. Clearly, Poroshenko, who is increasingly embattled and reviled, is grasping at straws hoping to avoid the same violent end he ruthlessly inflicted on so many of his countrymen. Here is a brief summary of recent events from the World Socialist Web Site:

The debacle suffered by the Kiev regime exposes the utterly reckless and frankly stupid character of the policy pursued by Washington and its EU allies in Ukraine …

The initial attempts of the Kiev regime and its CIA backers to subjugate east Ukraine by sheer military terror, relying on fascist militias and select units of the Ukraine army that it considered to be reliable, have failed …

Nevertheless, Washington is pressing Kiev to prepare for a renewed offensive and is still discussing directly arming the Ukrainian army against Russia with US weapons …

In west Ukraine, the population is evading or resisting draft orders to obtain more cannon fodder for the east Ukraine war. At the same time, Ukraine’s economy, cut off from its main industrial base in east Ukraine and its export markets in Russia, is collapsing.

“The country is at war that they cannot afford to fight. There is no economy any longer” … Gerald Celente of Trends Journal told Russia Today. “That $160 billion loss of trade with Russia has destroyed the economy, when it was already in a severe recession. It went from very bad to worse than depression levels.” {2}

Washington has largely won the information war, having persuaded Congress and the American people that US policy in Ukraine is “just”, but on the ground, where it counts, Washington has encountered one catastrophic failure after another. This process will undoubtedly persist until the costs are too exorbitant to bear.

Links:

{1} http://vineyardsaker.blogspot.com/2015/02/debaltsevo-fallout-in-banderastan.html

{2} http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2015/02/20/ukra-f20.html

_____

Mike Whitney lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press, 2012). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at fergiewhitney@msn.com.

http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/02/20/the-exceptional-u-s-suffers-crushing-defeat-in-debaltsevo/

Categories: Uncategorized
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